The Common Scold

The Common Scold is named after a cause of action that originated in Pilgrim days, when meddlesome, argumentative, opinionated women who displeased the Puritan elders were punished by a brisk dunk in the local pond. Believe it or not, the tort lasted until 1972, when State v. Palendrano, 120 N.J. Super. 336, 293 A.2d 747 (N.J.Super.L., Jul 13, 1972) pretty much put it to rest. But the thought of those feisty women, not afraid of a little cold water, has always cheered me up and inspired me. I first used the moniker as the name of my humor column at the University of San Francisco School of Law many moons ago, and revive it now for this blawg!



The Blawgosphere was abuzz early today with news that Google "has quietly added state and federal case law and patent search to its Google Scholar search service," as well as a "How Cited" citator service. The quote's from Et Seq., the Harvard law School Library Blog. (See also, TaxProf Blog  and 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, among others.)

This follows on the heels of  Bloomberg Law's launch , and the ABA IS diving in as well.

 The Google database includes more than 80 years of federal case law, and 50+ years of state case law. Users can search full-text of the state and fed opinions, which are hyperlinked, so you can navigate from one opinion to the next.

KlauIM  Long-time legal tech guru Rick Klau (left) participated in the effort. He was an early employee of FeedBurner, which was acquired by Google in June, 2007, and has been with Google ever since. Klau is now a project manager on the Blogger team at Google.

Klau has always been at the head of the cyber-pack. In law school, he founded a law review that published exclusively online.

"Fifteen years later, to have the oppportunity to be part of a team that worked to empower citizens to find and understand the laws that govern them ā€” well, that's a thrill," says Klau. "Google's mission is to organize the world's information, and make it accessible and useful. This feels like an important step forward on delivering that mission."

We purchased a collection of opinions from a third party provider and hosted it on Google Scholar.  In addition, we include opinions are from publicly available collections such as Public.Resource.Org, the Cornell Legal Information Institute and Justia," says Klau. 

Check out the Official Google Blog for the announcement: http://googleblog.blogspot.com.

Both LexisNexis and Thomson Reuter seemed blase about the news.

LN's statement:

"Free case law is not new to the Internet and is included on some of our own sites like lexisONE, LexisWeb and lawyers.com.  However, our legal customers generally require more than raw, unfiltered content to inform their business decisions. They look to LexisNexis to find needles in the ever-growing information haystack, not the haystack itself.

Not only do we provide the most complete portfolio of public and proprietary legal content, but LexisNexis enables legal professionals to conduct their research more efficiently, effectively, and with the assurance of accuracy.  The LexisNexis legal research service provides critical analysis and commentary such as Mathew Bender, citation analysis like Shepardā€™s, deep online linkages built over time to relevant content, and unique functionality such as pinpoint searching by topic or by complex legal phrases.

Our goal is to deliver relevant, reliable results that enable our customers to make informed decisions faster."

Says Thomson Reuter: "Google has shared with us their plans to expand Google Scholar to include the search of publicly available caselaw and some legal journals. We believe that government-authored information should be accessible to the public, and Google joins existing sites such as FindLaw, the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School and scores of others as sites that offer this information free of charge.

Our customers rely on us for very specialized information and legal insight, and use Westlaw to find exactly the right answer on very specific points of law."

Hat tip to Ross Fishman, of Fishman Marketing.

Click to enlarge photo.

Update: Among the reaction to the news:

Twitter: @davidcurle: Pity the lawyers of the world who are about to be WebMD'd by clients who think they know the law b/c they read it on Google.

@davidcurle: You knew this was coming, Google adds case law to Google Scholar. Nice links to other sources. http://tinyurl.com/yalbjwe

Ashby Jones at the Wall Street Journal picked up the post: http://tinyurl.com/tcs9183.

November 17, 2009 in Breaking News, Legal Research | Permalink


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Monica, a good use of Google Scholar on your website would be to add a link to your citation on your left column to the State v Palendrano case. You can link to it this way: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16323360018899986775

Posted by: Jeff Richardson | Nov 18, 2009 2:04:12 PM

How many years operating this function. And I still have not used it.

Posted by: Anrea | Apr 28, 2011 6:52:37 PM

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